Sutter Street renovation: Historical feel built into the plans

By: Jim Ratajczak The Telegraph
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For planners involved with Sutter Street's renovations, the light at the end of the tunnel is becoming more real each day. We're moving along quite well, said Redevelopment and Housing Director Amy Feagans. While the Historic Distract Streetscape Project is still in its drafting phase, Folsom's historic district will have its brand new parking garage by late March or early April, said city Public Intelligence Officer Sue Ryan. Feagans believes the new 315-space parking structure will be a boon to Sutter Street, a district which currently suffers from a lack of parking. It's going to be one of the nicest looking projects down there, she said. It will help for the better. She did concede that some businesses in the area are a bit apprehensive about the new parking structure. There are just concerns of how the spaces will be managed, Feagans said, citing the worry that business employees will use the best parking spots. According to Ryan, the city does plan on having a grand opening celebration for the parking garage, but no details or dates have been set. As the final preparations for the garage are hammered out, work on the Historic District Streetscape Project continues, and planners are taking extra steps to make sure Sutter Street doesn't lose its historical charm and feel. We're working on (eliminating) those Streetscape thoughts that (the project) will turn Sutter Street into a mall, said Feagans. To help dispel those worries or concerns, the city, working with Folsom Cultural Resources Conservancy and the Heritage Preservation League, hired historical consultants Page & Turnbull Architects to identify specific historic buildings and features that are worthy of preservation or restoration. It is very important to inject historic expertise into the process so we don't inadvertently destroy something of value, said Loretta Hettinger, a member of the Cultural Resources Conservancy and the Heritage Preservation League. One of our goals is to protect and enhance the historic district's potential for historical registration. According to Feagans, Page & Turnbull have already done a ton of research on what's important on Sutter Street. They did like the granite curbs, the elevated sidewalks” things like that were significant, she said. In addition to bringing on the historical consultant, the city has also gone out of its way to collect the thoughts of residents in that district. The Streetscape design committee did a whole survey down there, Feagans said. They spent a lot of time in the historical museum and talked with people who have lived in Folsom for a long time. Feagans said actual Sutter Street renovations will begin in spring/summer of 2009. We believe residents and visitors will be pleased when they see the end result of the Streetscape Project, she said. Our intent is to honor the historic assets of Sutter Street while improving the aging infrastructure and creating a more effective center for commerce.